CHENNAI: The Indians offered resistance but DPR Korea, with two brilliant second half goals, took full points from Group E in the Beijing Olympics football qualifier at the floodlit Nehru Stadium on Wednesday.
India's third straight defeat leaves it with only an academic interest in the remaining matches while DPR Korea has raised its tally to seven points from three matches, to keep its chances alive. India next travels to Pyongyang for its away match against Korea on April 18.
To be fair, the Indians showed marked improvement. There was vigour in their runs, a purpose in their passing and the Tata Football Academy product Saikh Tarif Ahmed promised to light a spark up in the front. For 53 minutes the strong-on-paper Koreans were kept at bay.
It must be said the Koreans were unable to show the sharpness in the frontline with glaring mis-passes at times. But Pak Nam Chol looked different with his play-making efforts to keep alive the hopes for the visitors.
Perhaps the best moment in the first session came from India when the sprightly and long-limbed Tarif stole past two defenders to get set for the final act. Pak Chol Jin came in the way at the nick of time.
Then,in the 53rd minute,Pak Nam Chol controlled a rebound from the defence and with one swing of his left leg sent the ball crashing in, from 23 yards out.
The shock had hardly sunk in when Manju and Sunil combined to bring down substitute Kim Kwang Hyog. Referee Chynybekov pointed to the spot but Subrata came up with a brilliant save to stop Pak Nam's straight try.
Then, a loose ball from the defence, in the 87th minute, saw Jong Su Hyok bulging the net with a classy left-footer from outside the box.